Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flip it and reverse it

Over on Videostatic there is post about the Pharcyde (sort of) reunion video, but the hidden gem in there is the original treatment for the Pharcyde video “Drop.” You know, the one in the alley where everything goes backwards. You can watch it here.

Now check out the treatment. One page from Spike, complete with teenage text0r spelling (see, he WAS ahead of his time). The concept and the execution were brilliant, but I especially love the low-fi presentation of the idea.

First of all, check out the date at the bottom of the treatment. 1995. How long ago was that? More than just 13 years. The Hollywood address was still in the 213 area code. There is absolutely no email or web address on the Satellite letterhead. 13 years is longer than I thought.

It seems clear to me that Spike was presenting this technologically tricky idea in a simple conversational way. Helped to make it seem like no big deal that the band would have to learn the lyrics in reverse. The way the treatment is written also captures the swirly, improvisational and hallucinatory feel of the finished video (and most Pharcyde music). Were all these things purposeful? I’d have to see more Spike treatments of the era to judge, but who am I to doubt the master?

When I see all the effort that must go into winning a job now, this Pharcyde treatment seems quaint. I bet Spike, caught in his current Sendakian nightmare, sighs and thinks back on when everything was simpler.

On even moderate budgets today, many labels want reams of reference photos and video clips included with the director’s pitch. They want adjustments and tweaks and input from the manager and commissioner – all before the job is ever awarded. And modern directors are competing against a much, much larger field of directors that anyone had to back in the mid-90s. The amount of energy modern MV directors put in to even getting themselves in the running continues to grow, even as the financial and creative pay-offs shrink up.

One Page Treatment Writing Directors UNITE!!!

On a side note, someone took that classic video for ‘Drop’ and re-reversed it so we can see the way the action really played out on set. Watching the clip again, my thoughts are that this was a lot of well thought out gags (disguised as an effortless goof) and that the alley they were shooting in must have really smelled like urine.

Watch 'Drop' - Watch 'Drop' reversed

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